Who killed the bears??
Well this one still raises a few eyebrows in Ruardean and some of the locals there are still sensitive about an incident that occured over 100 years ago. They got the blame for killing 2 travelling bears when everyone knew that it was really an unruly mob from Cinderford. The rivalry contines to this day as the people of Ruardean have never forgiven the people of Cinderford.
The story began on Friday 26 th April 1889 when four frenchman arrived in Cinderford with their two Russian Bears. They were paraded around the town and then planned to move on to Ruardean and were followed there by a group of children and youths. They had only got a mile away when a rumour was started implying that the bears had mauled a woman and killed a child. An angry mob from Cinderford pursued them and by early evening they were surrounded by an angry mob of 200 who beat the Frenchmen and killed one of the bears. Two Frenchmen escaped in fear of their lifes. Unable to keep hold of the other frightened bear its keeper had to let it go and it ran off only to be pusued and shot by the mob. In sight of Ruardean the locals there tried in vain to stop the attack. They took in the injured men following the incident and gave them shelter.
Arrests were made and on 3rd May 1899 the accussed men were taken to Littledean Police Court. They were described in court as "colliers and labourers of Ruardean", although it was quite clear that they were not. This indignation remains to this day as they felt their village had been wrongly accused.
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